»Form follows feminine.«

Oscar Niemeyer

Blog Agenda

Rebel Architecture 2

Yasmeen Lari: A Traditional Future

  • Yasmeen Lari outside a women’s centre built with traditional materials and techniques and on stilts to survive floods in the Sindh region. (All images © Al Jazeera) 1 / 12  Yasmeen Lari outside a women’s centre built with traditional materials and techniques and on stilts to survive floods in the Sindh region. (All images © Al Jazeera)
  • Lari, born 1941 in Pakistan, went to school and studied architecture in the UK. 2 / 12  Lari, born 1941 in Pakistan, went to school and studied architecture in the UK.
  • Before returning to Pakistan in 1964 where together with her husband she started her office Lari Associates in Karachi where she started to design huge buildings for the state and larger companies. 3 / 12  Before returning to Pakistan in 1964 where together with her husband she started her office Lari Associates in Karachi where she started to design huge buildings for the state and larger companies.
  • Yet from the beginning she also researched traditional ways of building in Pakistan. 4 / 12  Yet from the beginning she also researched traditional ways of building in Pakistan.
  • These vernacular techniques and local materials are mostly to be found in self-built structures and old towns. 5 / 12  These vernacular techniques and local materials are mostly to be found in self-built structures and old towns.
  • Later Lari founded the Heritage Foundation Pakistan to advocate the documentation and preservation of historical sites and buildings. 6 / 12  Later Lari founded the Heritage Foundation Pakistan to advocate the documentation and preservation of historical sites and buildings.
  • She received the 1st Pakistani “Wonder Women of the Year Award” in 2011. 7 / 12  She received the 1st Pakistani “Wonder Women of the Year Award” in 2011.
  • This episode of “Rebel Architecture” follows her visiting the Sindh region to see how the homes she has built have survived the latest flood ... 8 / 12  This episode of “Rebel Architecture” follows her visiting the Sindh region to see how the homes she has built have survived the latest flood ...
  • ... and helping villagers in Balochistan after an earthquake to rebuild their homes with simple yet efficient techniques and materials ... 9 / 12  ... and helping villagers in Balochistan after an earthquake to rebuild their homes with simple yet efficient techniques and materials ...
  • ... instead of accepting governmental aid which aims to replace all traditional mud houses by concrete structures. 10 / 12  ... instead of accepting governmental aid which aims to replace all traditional mud houses by concrete structures.
  • Lari’s work as an architect aims at re-empowering the people with their lost, traditional knowledge of how to build in this climate and region... 11 / 12  Lari’s work as an architect aims at re-empowering the people with their lost, traditional knowledge of how to build in this climate and region...
  • ...and in the end encouraging them to help others, too. 12 / 12  ...and in the end encouraging them to help others, too.

uncube is delighted to be featuring all six episodes of Al Jazeera English’s new documentary series Rebel Architecture. Spanning the globe from Spain to Vietnam, Nigeria to Pakistan and Rio de Janeiro to the Israeli-Palestinian border, each half-hour episode follows an architect pushing the boundaries of the profession, working at the edges of legality and on ways of directly improve living conditions and effecting change.  This week we see episode two: A Traditional Future (directed by Faiza Ahmed Khan) on the work of Yasmeen Lari, one of Pakistan’s leading architects and one of the most successful providers of disaster relief shelters in the world.

Since 2010 Yasmeen Lari has helped to build over 36,000 homes for those hit by floods and earthquakes in Pakistan. Shunning the weak, mass-produced houses offered by international organisations, she teaches people how to build better homes by themselves, using simple vernacular techniques and local materials.

Whilst this episode of Rebel Architecture focuses mostly on how Lari works with locals, it also takes her back to one of her major buildings in Pakistan, the giant glass-and-steel State Oil House from 1991. Lari explains that it feels weird returning to this building becaue she has since found an entirely new way of being an architect - not as the fêted creator of shiny new buildings, but by helping people directly: “The work I am involved in now is very different”, she says, standing in the vast foyer of her earlier work. In this film she returns to the Sindh region to see how her home-building programme there has survived the 2013 floods and helps villagers in Arawan after the 2013 Balochistan earthquake.

Al Jazeera airs a new episode each Monday at 23.30 (CET) from 18 August - 22 September 2014. For details please visit Rebel Architecture or subscribe to the uncube newsletter, as we also feature each week’s episode here. Follow this link to see Episode 1 “Guerilla Architect” and our extensive interview with the series executive producer Daniel Davies. Watch the full Episode 2: “A Traditional Future” below:

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